In the floods that swamped Mumbai in 2005, RJ Harsh of Radio City 91.1 FM was stranded inside his radio station, playing the voice of comfort, hope and help to a city that was struggling to keep its head above the waters. While the incident remains a bittersweet memory for the popular RJ, for his friend director Mahesh Iyer, it seemed to have all the makings of a film. Hello Mumbai, launched on YouTube in January 2017, is a pacey, tight drama on disasters, and how they separate us—often only to bring us closer
What got you hooked to the story?
I was doing my post graduation in Symbiosis institute for Media & Communication where Harsh was a visiting faculty who taught us radio programming. Once, he told us about the time when he was stuck inside the radio station during the floods. I felt an instant connection to that experience, and decided that I would make a film based on it some day. I had originally imagined it to be a feature film, though a short turned out to be more viable.
What was the deeper context here, besides a disaster?
Basically, through this film, I wanted to remind people to pause and look around them. We need to make an attempt to understand and empathise with the people around us instead of putting up unnecessary barriers against them in our mind. All of us come with a limited time on this planet; let’spend it thoughtfully and compassionately.
What were the challenges involved?
To be honest, we were a bunch of friends who got together. So, in terms of cost, we ended up spending nothing, except a little on travel and snacks. All the actors were my friends, so they didn’t charge anything. I wrote, directed, edited and did the sound design. My friend Shanu shot it with his Canon 60D. And Harsh, our lead actor, had been an RJ for six years with Radio City 91.1FM, so we even go the location free of cost for three nights.
What is the most challenging part about being a director of a short film?
Primarly, powerful storytelling skills, and absolute clarity about what you wish to convey. Also, as getting money for short films is not exactly a piece of cake, one needs to be particularly cautious about structuring the screenplay in a budget-friendly way.
What do you have lined up next?
Well, I have a psychological horror story that is waiting to be told. But this time around, I will need money to get going. I got lucky with my first film financially, thanks to my friends and my passion to wear multiple hats on the sets. Let’s wait and watch. Success and failure are all right as long as you have both on your own terms.